Hill’s Science Diet and Ideal Balance pet foods were pulled from the shelves of PetCo and PetSmart stores in Topeka and Lawrence, Kansas as a result of an unspecified business dispute, reported local news outlet WIBW.
The pet foods first disappeared from PetSmart locations in mid-May, then from PetCo by May 23. Eight pet product retailers and 27 veterinary clinics in the area still sell the Hill’s brands, reported the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Hill’s Pet Nutrition has their headquarters in Topeka, and the disappearance of Hill’s products from two major retailers in its hometown could be meant as a message to Hill’s, according to Pet Business. PetCo and PetSmart may be pushing back against Hill’s use of internet channels for selling its pet foods.
Abruptly removing Hill’s pet foods from their shelves bothered some PetCo and PetSmart customers in Kansas and ironically may have pushed them towards online purchases.
“I just can’t believe they pulled it off the shelves and they didn’t announce anything or say why they are doing it," pet owner Matt Garren told WIBW. “It’s going to encourage people to shop online..."
The challenge to brick-and-mortar retail outlets from internet sales has been building for years. The growing number of Millennial pet owners may be pushing the balance further towards online sales. Online sales increased to $3.7 billion of the US pet care total in 2014, up 76% from 2010, according to a report from Profitero.
While cat trends continue, the pandemic has added to overall slow-growth treatment of the cat food market.
Premiumization and humanization, as well as automation, fueled continued operation growth in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic.